What Is a Flexitarian Diet? What to Eat and How to Follow the Plan

What Is a Flexitarian Diet? What to Eat and How to Follow the Plan

The word flexitarian is simply the combination of the two words flexible and vegetarian, while a diet is simply a way of life. The theory behind the Flexitarian Diet is a more flexible approach to vegetarianism, so that you can still reap the benefits of loading up on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, without ditching animal products like steak and burgers entirely.

In the 2019 Best Diet Rankings by U.S. News & World Report, the Flexitarian Diet was ranked No. 3 in the Best Diets Overall category, in terms of long-term health and disease prevention, and No. 2 in Best Diets for Diabetes. It was also ranked No. 2 in the Best Plant-Based Diets (second to the Mediterranean diet). And unsurprisingly, the diet also took home second in the Easiest Diets to Follow categories in 2019, suggesting that its less-than-rigid nature makes it easy to follow and maintain. (1)

Here, learn about how the flexitarian diet works and find out whether the eating approach is right for your individual health and wellness goals.

How Does the Flexitarian Diet Work Exactly?
“You can think of this diet as a ‘vegetarian-ish’ way of eating since this plan touts the basic principles and benefits of a plant-based diet, along with the inclusion of some animal proteins to a lesser extent,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, Chicago-based author of The Flexitarian Diet, the book that inspired the diet craze. That means that while vegetarian staples such as tofu, quinoa, tons of produce, and other veggie-focused favorites may be the stars of your diet, no foods are taken away or strictly forbidden. But the flexitarian label isn’t equivalent to “lazy vegetarian” — instead, it’s an approach that advocates actively decreasing meat consumption.